Empowering Oak Hill High School female athletes: Air Force opportunity ignites inspiration

Female athletes at Oak Hill High School in Wales, Maine, were recently treated to an inspiring visit from 2nd Lt. Aeris Butler, a Space Force Officer and Admissions Advisor for the U.S. Air Force Academy, aimed at sparking curiosity among young women about career opportunities in the Air Force.

Butler, a 2023 graduate of the Air Force Academy, shared insights into her journey and the benefits of military service. “I made the decision to join the Air Force because I really wanted the benefits that came along with it. I did not have the means to pay full tuition at a college, so it was either apply for scholarships, be really good at sports, or join a military program that would help fund it,” she explained. “The four years were definitely challenging, but I learned the value of resiliency and taking care of myself.”

During her visit, Butler engaged with a variety of female athletes from across the school, sparking conversations about the variety of opportunities available in the Air Force.

“I believe the students’ key takeaways were that the Air Force is an opportunity for anyone to find success and continue to develop skills within their toolbox,” Brian Daniels, athletic director at Oak Hill High School, said.

In the Space Force,  Butler  serves as a Space Operator and will be trained to manage satellite operations and radar communications. “I will not be on the frontlines; I do not need to be a masculine energy. I am an intelligent, empathetic, and strong woman that is capable of doing the same job as a man. I might even do it better.”

Butler’s candid conversations resonated with the students. “Our athletes love that the conversations were fluid and real, not scripted. It allowed them to truly grasp what the Air Force has to offer,” Daniels said.

Daniels emphasized the value of providing female students with insight into potential career paths that allow for personal and professional growth. “Any opportunity to expose our young athletes to potential future paths is a win,” he said. “Focusing on young females in a mostly male-dominated profession is worth its weight in gold.”

The visit by Butler, part of a leadership program facilitated by DistrictWON, a U.S. Air Force partner for marketing and local engagement, served as a reminder of the importance of empowering young women to explore diverse career opportunities.

“We want diversity, diversity of thought, diversity in gender, diversity in background,” Butler said. “It does no good for the Air/Space Force to be made up of solely one demographic because America itself is not one demographic.”

For young women considering joining the Air Force after graduation but facing doubts, Butler offered words of encouragement.

“I encourage anyone who has doubts, to just look and keep an open mind. Maybe you try the military for a three-year contract. If you hate it, leave. If you love it, stay. You always have a choice. Why would you pass up an opportunity that you might actually really love? I had doubts. But I made lifelong friends and have gotten to live in places I’d never been. There is a reason for everyone; you just have to find it.”